Loyalist flute band “played famine song outside Catholic church” in Lisburn

Posted By: September 18, 2018


Distributed to the U.S. Congress by Irish National Caucus
“How sad that 20 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, Catholics still have to endure the blatant sectarianism reported in this article below. Is this any way to build up the Beloved Community in Northern Ireland? 
Racism and sectarianism are the flip sides of the same coin— and both evils have been used or condoned (since the English Reformation) by the British Government in Ireland.
And it must be understood that  when we speak of anti-Catholicism in Northern Ireland, we are not speaking about theological differences, but rather a historic system of oppression for ‘keeping Catholics in their place’— in the same sense that anti-Semitism is not a theological issue, but  rather an organized racist/sectarian system for demonizing and disrespecting Jews.” 
—Fr. Sean McManus

Brendan Hughes. Irish News. Belfast.Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Parades Commission is reviewing a complaint that a loyalist flute band played the Famine Song outside a Catholic church in Lisburn.

It was alleged the Noel Clarke Memorial Flute Band played the tune outside St Patrick’s Church on Chapel Hill during a march through the city on Saturday evening.

Pat Catney, SDLP MLA for Lagan Valley, said he was contacted by several people who were leaving a service at the church when the incident happened.

He described the Famine Song as “deeply sectarian” and said it has caused “deep offense to those residing within their place of worship.”

“The Noel Clarke Memorial Flute band should immediately explain why they felt the need to disrupt an evening Mass in the manner that they did,” he said.

“It is no secret that the Famine Song is deeply sectarian, given it was judged as racist by a court in Scotland.”

He added: “It is often said that the absence of conflict does not equate to peace. Saturday’s events truly substantiate the fact that we have not yet achieved full peace here in Northern Ireland.

“It is vital that all of us, including marching bands, step up to the mark in trying to live in a manner that is respectful of all cultures and creeds.”

Mr. Catney said he plans to arrange a meeting with the Parades Commission to discuss the incident.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Parades Commission said it had received a complaint in relation to the march.

A spokesman said: “The commission is reviewing a complaint received today in relation to the Noel Clarke Memorial Flute Band parade which was notified to take place in Lisburn on Saturday, September 15 between 7 pm and 8 pm for 25-35 participants.

“The commission’s guidelines state that when considering parades, the commission will take into account the extent to which participants complied with the code of conduct at previous parades.

“The code of conduct, which applies to all parades, states that when church services are taking place, no music shall be played.”

The PSNI said it had not received any complaints in relation to the march.

The Famine Song, which contains anti-Irish lyrics, is played to the air of the Beach Boys hit Sloop John B.

It caused controversy in 2012 when Shankill Road-based band Young Conway Volunteers was filmed walking in circles while playing it outside St Patrick’s Church on Donegall Street, Belfast.

In 2009 appeal court judges in Scotland upheld a conviction against a Rangers fan who was prosecuted for singing the Famine Song.

The court was told the song was “racist” and “displays malice and ill-will towards people of Irish descent living in Scotland.”